In the United States, parents are legally obligated to care for their minor children. The status of the parents’ relationship – married, unmarried but living together, separated, or divorced – does not change the parents’ responsibility to provide for their children financially. The legal definitions and procedures for child support cases vary from state to state. How does child support work in Maryland?
To begin with, the law distinguishes between two types of parents in a child support case: custodial and noncustodial.
- The custodial parent has the children for the majority of the time (as defined by the court) and makes the day-to-day decisions for the children’s care and wellbeing. In the absence of a parent, a legal guardian, such as a grandparent or court-appointed caretaker, can be the children’s custodian.
- The noncustodial parent does not have primary physical custody of the children. However, the noncustodial parent may have alternate physical custody (for example, the kids spend weekends at the noncustodial parent’s home). The noncustodial parent typically shares legal custody of the children with the custodial parent.
The noncustodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent (or legal guardian).
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Maryland child support guidelines are based on both parents’ salaries, referred to as an income shares model. The court includes both parents’ earnings when calculating the amount.
The guidelines consider the number of children, child support being paid for children of other unions, alimony being paid, alimony being received, daycare costs, children’s health insurance and medical fees, and educational expenses.
If the parents’ monthly adjusted combined income is in excess of $30,000, the guidelines do not apply. In these situations, the court will use the guidelines as a reference point, but the judge will determine the formula and decide the final amount.
What Does The Court Define As Income?
The court considers several sources, including but not limited to salaries, pensions, Social Security benefits, military pay, business revenues, and trust and annuity income. A child support attorney can advise you on all the income streams the court will review.
When Do Child Support Obligations End?
The responsibility to pay child support continues until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later.
Can A Child Support Order Be Modified?
Yes. If circumstances have changed significantly, the court will consider modifying a child support order. Some examples include a change in custody, a significant change in income, or changes in healthcare/medical costs for the children. An attorney for child support can collect and prepare the documentation necessary to file a modification request with the court.
If one or both parents have had more children since the child support order was established, that does not necessarily mean a court will approve an adjustment.
Does Child Support Stop If My Ex Moves Out Of State?
No matter where the parties reside, child support remains a requirement. If problems arise in collecting child support from a noncustodial parent who lives in another state or country, it is best to have a child support attorney represent your case to government agencies located in other jurisdictions.
How Long Does It Take To Set Up A Child Support Order?
Anywhere from three to six months. An order will be established more quickly if the court can verify both parents’ income sources and the parents agree to provide the requested information in a timely manner. If one parent lives out of state, or if the parents are contentious, the process may be delayed.
The judge will set the payment schedule. Payments can be made by check, direct deposit, or mobile payment options such as Venmo.
Can I File The Paperwork Online?
The Maryland Department of Human Services provides an online worksheet for parents to estimate the amount of child support they are obligated to provide or are entitled to receive. The judge uses a similar form to calculate the amount during the court hearing. Child support attorneys have access to the same worksheet as the judge.
The forms can be complicated to understand. A knowledgeable attorney for child support can explain the purpose of each form and help you complete them properly.
Fait & DiLima, LLP: Bold Approaches, Effective Resolutions
Whether you expect to collect or pay child support, don’t approach this process on your own. The court and your ex’s attorney will be up to date on the latest legal statutes. Will you? Not having an advocate may cost you and your children dearly.
With more than 50 years of collective experience, the award-winning team at Fait & DiLima, LLP, has successfully represented clients and their children in child support cases. Contact us today at (301) 251-0100 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation. Our offices are located in Rockville and Frederick. For your convenience, we also offer online meetings.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.